Guest Post: Pausing to Drink a Little

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A guest post by Diane Cameron, who writes about women and recovery.  Her own blog is Women in Recovery.

So much happens to us as mid-life women—there is all that physical stuff—so well documented here on this blog: face, hair, nails, belly, breasts and yes, vagina. We get new hairs; we lose old hairs. Our voices change. We sound like our mothers. We remember our mothers. We forget a lot of other things—addresses, where the keys are; what he said five minutes ago.

Menopause is like adolescence in reverse. Or adolescence all over again: Does he (still) like me? Can I wear that? Am I fat? What will I be when I grow up? and Who am I?

Who am I? gets triggered by body changes, partner changes, kid changes—they are on their way out or they are coming back. I’m the old-timer at work. How can that be? I like being the one who knows a lot but how much new stuff do I want to learn? If I’m going to make a career change it is now not later. Oh insecurity all over again. And money—can I afford to take a risk? Can I afford to go broke at 50 the way I did it at 30?

Menopause is an identity crisis. And into this mix—just like in adolescence –come the chemicals.

And for many of us the chemicals come in prettier and perhaps less obvious packaging. When the body insecurities and the work insecurities and the sex insecurities and the “Who am I?” insecurities hit we are not reaching for Boone’s Farm Apple Wine or Iron City Beer or Quaaludes. No, now we have a wine cellar and we know the names of really fine wines. We can order Micro brews, and the Ambien is already in our medicine cabinet. It seems like every woman we know over 45 has Cymbalta or Paxil, some Ambien, some Trazodone and we can discuss meds like a pharmacist. The tricky part is that we may need some of these things and some we may just like—or like the effect. Maybe we just don’t want to feel all that we feel and drinking or drugging makes life easier. Until it makes life harder. What’s a menopausal girl to do?

We know from the Mommy Blogs that women’s drinking and alcohol abuse is still so hidden and dangerous—and that’s true for us who have to look at this long after the diapers have become dusters.

Do you drink too much? Reach for a pill instead of your journal or have some more wine instead of a good cry? It’s a tough call. But its worth asking. And the good news about women like us at this time of life is that we know how to find and use resources. So if this post makes you uncomfortable, sit still for a second and breath. Trust your gut. Ask a friend. Google a bit about women and substance abuse. No right answers. But lots of freedom.

Diane Cameron is a writer, speaker, teacher and health advocate. She writes and speaks about addiction, recovery and couples facing cancer.  Learn more about Diane by reading her blog and visiting her website, DianeCameron.info.

I found the picture of the woman with the glass of wine here.

11 responses »

  1. diane, this is such a well written and sensitively done post. thank you. as someone who can’t and doesn’t drink and have never used a sleeping pill, i guess i should consider myself lucky? i know many people who i wish would read this post but the subject is so taboo. that makes it all the more tricky.
    thank you for sharing your insights on alternatives and the fact that a good cry is ok!! this phase is an identity crisis…i never thought of it that way!

    • Judy, it is tricky. How do we have this conversation with women friends? Maybe we raise it in a group? Maybe we send this link to everyone and hope someone sends it to “that” woman:))))

      Diane

  2. Diane,
    Thanks for your thoughtful post. I never thought of this phase as an identity crisis, but have asked myself many of the questions you mention. And I guess I, too, feel lucky that I have been able to avoid medicating myself to deal with my here-and-there flurries of menopausal symptoms. Sure, I enjoy a beer or a glass of wine, but if I really think of it, I believe indulging there actually makes the hot flashes, etc. more intense. Somehow knowing I’m going through this change makes dealing with it more manageable for me, and I’m never averse to a good cry, or a laugh, or a great session of yoga.
    Peace.

    • Mima–it is a subtle thing …for me its like that with sweets..when am I enjoying myself adn somehting relaly deliscious and when am I just trying to “medicate” and not feel somehting? Why we need our women friends I think.

      Thanks for writing!

      DianeC

  3. As I go through this new journey with my body I vacillate between being at peace or feel I am doing battle! Menopause is certainly an adventure. Thankfully I have not been tempted to use drugs or alcohol to numb myself to the process….however, I have turned to hormone replacement. A decision made after many sleepless nights and cranky behavior. For me, it’s helpful- I know it’s not for everyone. Thanks for brining up this topic, I think it is ignored my many when discussing the aging process.

  4. These are problems that I wasn’t aware of, i.e., behaviors simply related to the ‘pause or life changes that occur around this time.

  5. I’ve had some anxiety & depression during the whole menopause process. Things are better now but for a couple of years I was on medication. Having someone to talk to really helps. I’ve noticed that we become sort of invisible when we reach that age so it’s easy to feel lonely.
    Thanks for the post.

    • Oh that invisibility thing is so real. Why is that? It’s not just the men looking at the younger woman beside me as I beam and think it’s about me, but at work, in community. What is the plus side to this–I believe there is a plus…maybe it helps with letting go of what other people think of me–when I realize that they clearly are not thing about me:))

      Diane

  6. Diane, Thank you so much for your insightful and encouraging post. Now about the voice. My daughter told me today on the phone, “You’re starting to cough just like Gram…”

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